Photo by Adam Caira Hope P. Nisen, of Barre, appears with her public defender at her arraignment Tuesday in Washington County criminal court in Barre.
BARRE — Three men from out of state and a Barre woman have been charged with conspiracy to sell cocaine and are each being held on $100,000 bail.
Dwayne T. Miley, 22, of Factoryville, Pa., Byron Matthews, 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Nathan R. Gore, 23, of Brooklyn, N.Y., each pleaded not guilty to felony possession of cocaine and felony conspiracy to sell cocaine Tuesday in Washington County criminal court in Barre. If convicted, each faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $200,000 fine.
Hope P. Nisen, 28, of Barre, pleaded not guilty to three felony charges: possession of cocaine, conspiracy to sell cocaine and carrying a firearm while committing a felony. If convicted, she faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $200,500 fine.
According to the police affidavit, officers responded to a 911 call Monday night after a man said three black males had assaulted him and were following him in a red car. Police say they located the red Volkswagen sedan in the parking lot of the Days Inn Motel on South Main Street. Police say the car had Maryland license plates and was registered to Enterprise Rental.
At the Days Inn, police say, they located the room where the men who were driving the car had been staying. Police knocked on the door and a male opened the door while another male stood in the middle of the room.
While police were questioning the two men, one officer saw a black semi-automatic pistol on the nightstand, which turned out to be loaded; a knife on a table with a white substance on it next to large white flakes of a powdery substance; and a box of plastic sandwich bags, according to the affidavit.
As the officer was looking into the room, he saw the bathroom door moving and yelled for the person inside to come out, according to the affidavit. While the officer was approaching the third male, another officer found Nisen behind the front door of the room with a gun in a holster on her hip.
Police took all four into custody and unloaded the guns. While doing so, police say they located a black plate on the shelf of the nightstand with a large quantity of white powder on it and a bag of marijuana.
Police then received a search warrant for the room. The items they seized included the knife, a Keltec 9mm pistol, a Taurus .380-caliber pistol, $4,526 in cash, a digital scale, and 15.75 grams of what tested positive for cocaine.
When questioned by police, all four suspects either denied knowledge of the guns and drugs or declined to speak with officers.
In court Tuesday, State’s Attorney Tom Kelly asked for $150,000 bail for all four. Gore’s attorney, Amanda Kitchen, argued against bail, saying what he was facing for a maximum sentence did not warrant such a high bail, while admitting he did not have strong ties to the community.
When Judge Thomas Zonay asked what ties Gore had, Kitchen said he had been in Vermont since Thursday and has had several relationships with women in the area and had considered moving to Vermont.
Unconvinced, Zonay implemented the $100,00 bail.
“While the court understands that he may have had several relationships with young women, several relationships within a week in the state do not ties to the community make,” Zonay said.
Miley’s attorney, Colin Seamen, suggested to the judge that there was no probable cause for the charge of conspiracy to sell cocaine, arguing that there was no evidence of any actual sales or distribution of any drugs.
Zonay responded that when deciding probable cause, the law does not require that the state establish each of the elements of the charge by direct evidence alone. The state, he said, can cite circumstantial evidence — in this case large amounts of cocaine, the plastic bags and firearms — to find probable cause.
Nisen’s lawyer, Andrew Delany, said Nisen is a licensed gun owner and the weapon that was on her at the time of the incident was registered to her.
Nisen has previous convictions for driving with a svvuspended license in 2009, negligent operation in 2008, driving under the influence in 2008 and 2007 and unlawful mischief in 2006.
Miley and Gore both have trespass convictions in New York, in 2010 and 2009, respectively. A criminal records check on Matthews turned up no prior convictions.
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